A Kentucky Fried Chicken advertisement featuring a chicken dancing to rap music was the most-complained-about ad in the U.K. last year, reports the country’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
KFC’s The Whole Chicken ad, showing a chicken strutting to DMX’s X Gon’ Give It To Ya, received 755 complaints, landing it at the top of the ASA’s top 10 most-complained-about ads from 2017.
With the slogan “the chicken, the whole chicken and nothing but the chicken,” the KFC commercial received complaints that it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing to vegetarians, vegans and children and that it depicted a chicken that was heading for slaughter.
The ASA, the U.K.’s independent advertising regulator was not, however, of the same opinion, dismissing all complaints. It ruled that the advertisement was unlikely to cause distress or serious or widespread offense as there were no explicit references to animal slaughter.
There may, however, now be a just a little egg on the faces of those who commissioned the ad. At the time it was first released, KFC commented that the Whole Chicken represented a step change for the company, taking a bolder stance when it comes to engaging with loyal customers and fans.
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The ASA received 29,997 complaints last year, with the top 10 most-complained-about promoting products ranging from air fresheners to soap to chocolate to telephones. And while KFC may have hit the top spot, it was not the only quick-service restaurant to be the target of the public’s ire.
McDonald’s came in at fifth place, standing accused of trivializing grief. There was no ASA investigation, however, as the company voluntarily halted the campaign after negative press comments.
The ASA’s chief executive, Gur Parker, notes that it is advertisements that have the potential to offend that attract the highest number of complaints, but that does not necessarily mean they have fallen on the wrong side of the law.
This is not the first time KFC has fallen "a-fowl" of the U.K. viewing public. It was also top of the ASA’s 2005 list after receiving 1,671 complaints for advertisements promoting its Zinger Crunch Salad. This remained the most-complained-about advertisement of all time until 2014.